I confess, growing up in southern California, I have always had an affection for begonias. My very first purchase, at the young age of 8, was from the county fair and was a rhizomatous variety that I grew for many years. As it got too large for its pot, I would break off sections and root them to share with all the elderly widows in the neighborhood. In return, they gave me homemade cookies and slices of lemon pie (Mrs. Brown made the absolute best lemon pie, from scratch no less). While I have never met a begonia I didn’t like, the number of varieties to choose from is far too numerous to cover in a short column like this, so I am going to focus on three of my favorites that are garden worthy...
It’s time to move out of our comfort zone and get into container gardening in a whole new way. Gone are the days when we only put flowers in our pots. Gone are the days when everything had to be perfectly symmetrical and gone are the days when all the colors had to follow the dictates of a color wheel.
Oh, the eternal question… What should we get mom for her once a year special day? (Knowing that no matter what it is, it will never be commensurate to all the love and sacrifice she has given us.) Here are some ideas that might save you, if you are still in a quandary as to what to do.
I know what you all are thinking: “Will spring ever come?” It’s a fair question but I can assure you that spring has already come and we are well on our way to summer, although that probably doesn’t make you feel any better. Beyond a doubt, this has been the worst spring weather I can remember since moving to the northwest 30 years ago. Do not despair, it’s not as bad as it seems....
One on my first plant addictions, that began years ago and will never be cured, is an affinity for all things Japanese maple. I just don’t see how anyone can pass on a maple! Not only are they stunning architectural plant specimens to admire, but they always have outstanding fall color as well. Three main species of Japanese maple to utilize are Acer palmatum (typical garden maple varieties and hence the name of my own disease), Acer japonicum (downy maples), and Acer shirawasawanum (the full moon maples). There are many beautiful varieties available to home gardeners from all these species that come in a myriad of colors and textures to surprise even the pickiest of plant people. With hundreds of distinct flavors around there truly is a maple for every spot in the garden!
Springtime has arrived and the multitudes of Rhododendrons are blooming….. Our state flower shines in every color imaginable and I am here to remind you of this one old adage – flowers come and flowers go - so discover the different foliages of Rhododendrons! We all salivate for spring flowers, but after the blooms are done we need attractive leaves. Rhodies offer not only every shade of green, in all kinds of shapes/sizes, but also some variegated foliages, many with stunning color on new growth as well. There are thousands of nice bloomers, but remember to look for one with nice foliage as well.
If you love gardening, chances are you probably also appreciate the arts and the humanities. I have always considered gardening a form of art and the warm, fuzzy feeling I get from being around plants is the same kind of feeling I receive from good music, theater, a good book, or a simple walk in the park where I am surrounded by the beauty of nature. It is my considered opinion that these kinds of experiences are essential to a healthy society, but sadly they are currently under attack by our administration because they are perceived as nonessential or as having little value to us. Nothing could be farther from the truth and we need to let our legislators know.
Considering all the cold and wet weather we have had, and evidently will continue to have for at least the first half of April, I could easily just refer you to my To Do list for both February and March and you would probably be just fine (you can find those articles here ). For myself I am easily 2 to 3 weeks behind schedule, especially in my veggie garden where I would have loved to have had my cool season veggies planted by now. I have to keep reminding myself that there is still plenty of time.
March and April are what we call the “cool season” when it comes to veggies. Typically that means planting vegetables either for their roots, such as onions, potatoes or carrots, or for their shoots (think leaves), such as lettuce, cabbage and spinach but also broccoli and cauliflower. Warm season veggies are like tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash and they are planted later when the soils get much warmer. Today I want to focus on onions.
It’s official, spring is now here. This week marks that magic moment when our days finally become longer than our nights. Of course there is no guarantee that any of these days will actually have the sun shining but it is at least encouraging to know that the potential is there to experience, on the average, 3 more minutes of daylight every day from now until the summer solstice, at which time we start losing 3 minutes a day until we hit the fall equinox when once again the days become shorter than the nights. I find sometimes it is better not to dwell on this kind of information and just appreciate each day as it unfolds. Call me simple minded if you like but this is how I stay sane.